The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence filed a lawsuit today against the Mississippi gun shop that sold the gun used to killed Chicago police officer Thomas E. Wortham IV in 2010.
Wortham, who was also an Iraq War veteran, was shot to death in front of his parents’ Chatham home by gang members attempting to steal his motorcycle. His father, a retired police officer, returned fire, fatally wounding one of the gangbangers. The gun used in the murder, a .45 caliber pistol, was purchased at Ed’s Pawn Shop and Salvage Yard in Byhalia, Miss., by Michael Elliott, who sold it for $100 to Quawi Gates, who is currently serving a 10-year sentence for a Mississippi-to-Chicago gunrunning operation that depended on straw purchases. Elliott and Gates were also named in the lawsuit, which was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi on behalf of Wortham’s family.
Here’s an excerpt from the Brady Campaign’s press release:
The complaint alleges that the weapon used to kill Wortham was illegally purchased by Defendant Michael Elliot at Defendant Ed’s Pawn Shop and Salvage Yard (“Ed’s Pawn Shop”), owned and managed by Defendant Bruce E. Archer. The complaint includes eight counts against the defendants, including negligence and negligent entrustment by Defendant Ed’s Pawn Shop in the sale of handguns.
The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (“ATF”) routinely traces the history and movement of guns used in crimes like the murder of Thomas Wortham IV, identifying the manufacturer, distributor, and ultimately the dealer that sold the weapon in question. ATF data show that just over 1% percent of the nation’s licensed gun dealers supply 57% of the guns used in crimes (“crime guns”). Government data also show that the vast majority of dealers sell zero crime guns each year. These findings demonstrate that there is a small but active group of corrupt or negligent dealers who supply the criminal market with the firearms that are used to commit violent crimes in cities and towns across the country every day. Firearms dealers remain one of the most important channels for diverting firearms from the legal market to the illegal market.
The Brady Campaign is named for former former presidential press secretary Jim Brady, the Illinois native who was wounded in the assassination attempt against President Ronald Reagan.